The Auditor-General’s report into the previous Coalition Government’s Regional Growth Fund has exposed deep flaws in its operation, showing a complete disregard for taxpayers money and regional Victoria.
Despite the Coalition’s promise to regional Victorians, the report confirms there was never $1 billion within the fund.
It also raises a number of significant shortcomings including poor reporting on outcomes, a failure to achieve value for money and inadequate transparency in decision making.
The previous Coalition Government took 18 months to establish performance measures, and even then the Auditor General concludes that the framework failed to meet what is expected for the spending of taxpayers’ money.
The report also highlights worrying shortcomings with the Coalition’s Energy for the Regions program. The expected cost per connection of $6,680 is significantly higher than what is considered good value for money, and there has been little to show so far for the program.
The report further reveals that the Coalition did not seek advice on value for money when selecting towns under the program.
This meant that two regional towns that had previously been identified as meeting value for money thresholds under the previous Labor Government’s program were overlooked.
The Andrews Labor Government has created the $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which will get regional Victoria back on track and has replaced the Regional Growth Fund.
The new fund has dealt with many of the concerns of the Auditor-General in its design and development. Improvements include better monitoring and evaluation, enhanced data collection processes for progress reporting and more robust performance measurements.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford
“The previous Coalition Government promised $1 billion for jobs and growth, but this report confirms there was never that amount in the fund. They misled regional Victorians.”
“The fund spent taxpayers money without even considering value for money, which means regional Victoria didn’t get the best outcomes that it deserves.”
“The Coalition took 18 months to put performance measures in place. That’s how bad they are at managing taxpayers dollars.”
“Our Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund will focus on creating jobs, improving the liveability of Victoria’s regional cities and towns, and building critical infrastructure.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020